It’s that time of year again, north Georgians — flu season. As family and friends gather for the holidays, flu activity is increasing. Anyone still unvaccinated should get a flu vaccination right away.

Dec. 1-7 is this year’s National Influenza Vaccination Week in which health officials highlight the importance of being vaccinated against the flu during the holiday season and beyond. This week serves as a reminder that anyone who can be vaccinated should do so to protect as many people as possible against flu. Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccination every season.

Since this past August, public health staff in the North Georgia Health District have given more than 7,440 flu vaccinations, and doses are still available at public health departments in these north Georgia counties:

• Murray County: 709 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road, Chatsworth (706-695-4585).

• Whitfield County: 800 Professional Blvd., Dalton (706-279-9600).

Flu vaccine is no cost at county health departments in north Georgia for anyone under an acceptable health insurance plan such as Medicare, Medicaid, Aetna, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, United Healthcare and others. For those without insurance coverage, the cost is still relatively low. The regular flu shot is $25 and the high-dose flu shot recommended for people ages 65 and older is $65.

There are many reasons to get a flu vaccination.

• Flu vaccine can reduce a person’s risk of flu illness, doctors’ visits and missed work and school due to flu. Even if a vaccinated person still gets sick, flu vaccine can reduce the severity of the illness.

• Flu vaccine also helps protect women during and after pregnancy, and protects the baby born to a vaccinated mom for several months after birth.

• Flu vaccine has saved children’s lives; prevented serious events associated with chronic lung disease, diabetes and heart disease; and prevented flu-related hospitalization among working-age adults and older adults.

Getting vaccinated is not just about keeping healthy. It is also about not spreading the virus, protecting others in the community who may be vulnerable to becoming very sick, such as babies, older adults and pregnant women.

For more information on influenza vaccination and immunization, visit the Georgia Department of Public Health website at http://dph.georgia.gov/influenza-what-you-need-know.

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